Thursday, September 3, 2009

Until Then

Monday afternoon I checked my email and saw that one of my old housemates had gone into labor. I sighed and began praying for her. We had known for months that her baby would not live long past delivery.

Just this past Christmas I watched as we welcomed my youngest nephew into our lives, and I was amazed at a world saturated with miracles. But when I went home on Monday and prayed for the little miracle of my friends’ son whose pieces had not come together tightly enough to give him a complete skull and some of his major organs, I felt the sobering tragedy of our brokenness. The little boy was a miracle that entered our lives like a lightning stroke and slipped away like sand between our fingers, and we were left to grieve the loss of someone we had never had.

Later while I was doing my evening prayers and somewhere in a hospital nearby my friends were celebrating the two hours they had with their son, I encountered an unfamiliar hymn in the prayer book.
Now fades all earthly splendor,
The shades of night descend;
The dying of the daylight
Foretells creation’s end.
Though noon gives place to sunset,
Yet dark gives place to light:
The promise of tomorrow
With dawn’s new hope is bright.

The silver notes of morning
Will greet the rising sun,
As once the Easter glory
Shone round the Risen One.
So will the night of dying
Give place to heaven’s day,
And hope of heaven’s vision,
Will light our pilgrim way.

So will the new creation
Rise from the old reborn
To splendor in Christ’s glory
And everlasting morn.
All darkness will be ended
As faith gives place to sight
Of Father, Son and Spirit,
One God, in heaven’s light.
Paul tells us that the whole creation is groaning inwardly with the pains of childbirth in hope that it will be freed from its bondage to decay and brought to the glorious freedom of the children of God. I long for that day: the day the undeveloped miracle of that baby whom I never met is revealed in all his beauty, the day Benedict can have that cup of coffee with me in dignity, the day Russ’s crusty spirit can see clearly without being clouded by his racism or anti-Semitism or misogyny, the day we will no longer watch friends drown or get hit by cars or get shot or OD in despair, the day an offended father no longer needs to disregard the injustice committed against his daughter in order to forgive the offender, the day Church unity is no longer a mere scent in the air but the Kingdom we inhabit, the day we reflect on our struggles with loneliness and homosexuality and alcohol like old tales, the day the intercity kids whose papers I grade will no longer get shafted by corrupt government, the day God rewrites his own story the way my grandmother does, the day his blessings flow far as the curse is found.

Until then, Little One, goodnight.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.

Photo taken by Aimee Bickers of Pure Expressions Photography. Aimee is a volunteer with Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a non-profit foundation that provides professional maternity and birth photos to parents who are losing a child.

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